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p1000239.JPGRight after the Festival of Thinkers in UAE, I flew to Washington DC to attend the annual meeting of the Council on Competitiveness (COC). Attending the Annual Meeting was a great opportunity for me, particularly given the fact that we invited Deborah Wince-Smith, the President of COC to the Global Innovation Ecosystem Conference in June this year, and also as I am involved in the Executive Opinion Survey for the Global Competitiveness Report at the World Economic Forum.The event began with dinner at the State Department. The dinner was a tribute to Sam Palmissano, Chairman of IBM and Wayne Clough, President of Georgia Tech, co-chair of the National Innovation Initiative (well-known for the report, Innovate America). The dinner was such a great experience, as there were over 200 people, some of whom I had met earlier in Kyoto during the Science & Technology in Society Forum, and others during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland or recently in Dalian, China or World Knowledge Forum in Seoul,Korea.
Just having dinner in Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department was an experience.
The next day was the annual meeting with three panel sessions. Each panel consisted of business executives, public policymakers, and university presidents etc., and discussions were carried out on issues such as health care, energy, the environment, and innovation. It was a great experience to actually hear and see what issues were on people’s minds and how they define and address these issues from different perspectives.
  I find it refreshing to hear how people struggle to resolve issues of great concern. The exchange was quite frank, informal, interactive and at the same time very constructive. I felt that one of the strengths of these organizations in the U.S. is their willingness to address important, but challenging issues, try many different approaches and move on. I saw little pessimism and was again impressed with the way the organization renews its mission, while celebrating past accomplishments and their leaders. I felt that dynamism is still alive in the U.S. 
It was a good contrast with the youth-filled UAE. When I arrived in Washington DC from Abu Dhabi, the familiar way of life in the U.S. (I lived there for some 8 years and still visit every 3-4 months now) looked somewhat different. I did not feel the youth, hope and dynamism I usually feel in the U.S. (I believe this must have been because of my immediate past experience in the UAE, which was just growing so fast.) It was very assuring and encouraging to see that we could regain life and dynamism. I felt that we need to regain such dynamism and renewal in Japan as well.

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